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James Mangold

Walk The Line * James Mangold (2005)

Walk The LineThis film has been on my wishlist for a while. Not that I am a fan or Johnny Cash (1932-2003) or anything, but I like music films and the man made some interesting music. “Walk The Line” shows the troubled life of the famous musician. Writing his own music, he is pushed towards more commercial sounds of the time, so he starts to make what to me sounds like early rock’n’roll (what is supposedly country). Being married with children he does not make enough money to be a fulltime musician in the early days, but after his first hitsingle, Cash starts touring and touring and touring, each time ending up with many of the same bands, including the young Elvis and June Carter, one of the Carter family child-stars, who becomes his muse and eventually his wife. Carter, making awfull country music, may be the reason that Cash also went that way somewhat. His rapidly raising star and rock’n’roll life gives the usual trouble with a broken marriage and drug abuse and Cash’s bad period is shown at length. “Walk The Line” is a nice drama with nice music and a nice peek on the early days of rock music.

Identity * James Mangold * 2003

I don’t think I knew this film until my girlfriend picked it out in the videostore. Mangold, the director of “Girl, Interrupted” and “Kate and Leopold” took the term “psychological thriller” very literary. The film starts with very short and speedily assembled scenes showing how different people end up in the same motel. Bad weather and most of all: bad luck. Then those people start to die one by one. Not too original you may think, but as a matter of fact, Mangold did (in my opinion) something very original. Unfortunately he gives away the clue about halfway the film, but still manages to keep “Identity” interesting and entertaining. I think the dark and rather grim atmosphere of the film adds to this. A very nice script and a good idea to make a not very original fact (people in the same place dying one by one) into a good film. -5/9/05–4-

Girl, Interrupted * James Mangold * 1999

I had wanted to see this film since it played in the cinemas. Then it came on DVD and video and still I didn’t come to watch it and already now it is played in TV. I didn’t really know what to expect, either a heavy film like Heavenly Creatures or The Virgin Suicides or a lighter more comedy-like film. It proved to be something in the middle.

Susanna Kaysen (it took a while before I recognised Winona Ryder looking very youthfull) is a depressed teenager that tries to commit suicide with sleeping pills and Wodka. This doesn’t work and she is sent to a mental hospital. Here she meets a whole range of crazy girls and nurse Valerie Owens (a surprisingly good part by Woopie Goldberg). Susanna eventually becomes friends with the most impossible inmate being Lisa Row (I totally hadn’t recognised Angelina Joly!).

Anyway, drama, joy, problems and a good end for Susanne and a very nice film if you want to see a good drama some time.